Copyright YYYY, Editorial School children in Deerfield, N.H., will attend classes only four days a week this year if a plan to reduce school costs and preserve extracurricular activities goes into effect in September.
The N.H. State Board of Education has given tentative approval for a test of Deerfield's four-day plan, which will increase the length of the school day from six to seven and a half hours, allow the small town's only school to remain closed on Fridays, and save an estimated $15,000 in transportation and energy costs. The state's commissioner of education, Robert L. Brunelle, expects to give final approval as soon as the school shows that it has adequate procedures for implementing the change and for monitoring its success.
The plan enables the George B. White school to provide its 266 first-through-eighth graders with the athletic, music, and art programs that were scheduled to be eliminated as a cost cutting measure, according to Peter Sweet, the school's principal.
The idea for the one-year experiment, Mr. Sweet says, comes in part from the success of a similar program in rural Colorado. [See Education Week, June XX, pg. x] That program, although it saved little money, reduced absenteeism among students and teachers and was endorsed by all 10 school districts in the experiment, according to a report from the University of Colorado team of educators.
The N.H. board, which in past years has rejected proposals from other districts to shorten the school week, was persuaded to approve the plan, according to Neal D. Andrew, Jr., deputy commissioner of education in New Hampshire, because town officials demonstrated that it was the only way for the school to maintain its full educational program, and because there was tremendous community support. Such support was found to be a crucial element in the success of the four-day school week in Colorado, also.
In Deerfield, 4-H clubs and scouting clubs plan to hold their meetings on Fridays, Mr. Sweet says.
If the school finds that the longer school day is too hard on the children, he adds, the school will return to a five-day week.